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Body weight includes fat, but also your muscle mass, bone mass and water. Restrictive diets result in rapid weight loss by reducing fat, but also muscle mass and water. Long term, you gain the weight back, and even more. If you just want to reduce your body fat and maintain the fat loss in the long term, here are five easy tips to achieve that without having to diet!
Studies show that people who regularly sleep less than seven hours a night are more likely to be obese, gain weight, and have a higher waist size and body fat percentage than people who sleep seven hours or more. Lack of sleep is associated with an increase in calorie intake, particularly from fatty foods and snacks. The studies show that insufficient sleep is associated with an additional intake of energy varying from 200 to 600 calories per day. This is caused by a higher secretion of hunger hormones, particularly leptin and ghrelin, which encourage eating, as well as an alteration in judgement and decision making, which could affect food choices. It is recommended to sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night, and have regular sleeping and waking hours.
Stress increases blood levels of a hormone known as cortisol, which encourages the body to store more fat, especially around the abdomen. What’s more, stress can stimulate appetite and increase your desire for high fat and sugar foods. An excess of cortisol can also cause the metabolism to slow, which means you’ll burn fewer calories at rest. To reduce your levels of stress, you could sign up for a weekly yoga course, or simply dedicate a few minutes a day (for example when you wake up) to a relaxation activity (deep breathing, meditation, stretching, etc.).
It’s important to have a snack if the time between meals is four hours or more. This enables you not to be starving at mealtimes and consequently eat too much. Snacking is associated with better weight control. Here are a few examples of healthy snacks: a piece of fruit, yogurt, a handful of nuts, 50g cheese with a few crackers, raw vegetables with hummus or an homemade granola bar.
If you want to work out, it’s important to choose an activity that you love, otherwise you risk giving up. Weight training increases your muscle mass, which increases your base metabolism and enables you to burn more calories at rest. Cardiovascular exercises burn more calories than weight training and are therefore also useful if you’re looking to lose fat. If you don’t like working out or practicing sports, there are other solutions! Just try to be more active during the day, for example taking the stairs, parking further away and walking, etc. This can make a big difference in your daily energy expenditure and help you lose weight. Studies show that people who work out but remain seated the rest of the day sometimes have lower energy expenditure than people who are active throughout the day but don’t necessarily work out.
It’s important to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Sometimes, the body can confuse thirst and hunger. So, if you think you’re hungry, start by drinking water to make sure you’re not simply dehydrated. A light-colored urine indicates you are well hydrated. Note that tea and coffee (up to four cups a day) are also appropriate choices to stay hydrated.